The gold watch is bronze.
Long gone are the days of staying with a company for years, motivated by a retirement gift of a gold watch. For previous generations, staying with a company was an accomplishment, a great thing, and something to celebrate. If you kept your job that long, you were doing pretty well for yourself. In return for your time and years of dedication, the company rewarded you with a gold watch.
I do not believe there is anything wrong with staying with one company for many years into retirement. Loyalty is a great thing.
I do, however, completely disagree with staying in a place that you do not enjoy or a place where you are not fulfilled. Both your life and your time are too valuable.
Whatever your goals are, make sure to keep them fresh. If you have a goal to accomplish something and you accomplish that thing, start thinking about what you want to do next. I am not encouraging that you never be satisfied. On the contrary, learn to be satisfied over and over again. Adopt an attitude of always going after what you truly want, personally and professionally, without giving up. Simply stay motivated.
Do Not Settle
What does it mean to settle? By definition, the word settle does not carry with it a negative connotation. However, settling means accepting significantly less than you want, probably because you do not think you can get want you want. Settling is bad news. It can lead to many negative feelings such as regret and resentment.
Why is the Watch Bronze?
No matter how long you stay with your company, you are not getting a gold watch. If there is a single company (private or public) that you believe is still handing out gold watches, I stand corrected. Please let me know about it in the comments. The now proverbial gold watch has not only gone down in value but has lost its value completely.
If you want anything in retirement, you have to earn it and make it happen for yourself. Okay yes, there is the company’s retirement match, but that is about it. The company match is a great benefit. Some may say it is better than a gold watch any day. When you compare what you hope to achieve in retirement (or early retirement) to what it meant to earn a gold watch all those years ago, you will see that our desires today have more significance than a gold watch.
Change Your Badge
The gold watch was a badge of honor. It meant you lasted a long time and “hung in there” for a long time. To my point about staying motivated and not settling, when you think about your life and you picture yourself in retirement, and say to yourself “I made it, I hung in there,” ask yourself one question: at what cost?
Let your badge of honor be that as you enter retirement, you are in good health, physically and mentally. You made a difference in the lives of those you have worked with. You have the energy to start another chapter of joyous events. You understood the value of your life and time. You have enjoyed each moment of it.
Rita Lucas is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a writer and author who works with the federal government as a management analyst and project manager. As a writer, she helps small business and non-profit organizations promote their mission and brand; and as an author, she has published several titles that promote self-development. As a government employee, Rita has worked in the field of human resources for 11 years and has volunteered for leadership positions with veteran-focused and millennial-centric organizations. Rita holds a bachelor’s degree in business and a master’s degree in publishing. She is a new mom and resides in Maryland with her family. You can read her posts here.